Legendary actress Betty White, who turns 96 this month, recently revealed some of the lessons she has learned along the way — including the secret to a long life.
“Enjoy life,” she said in a recent interview for Parade. “Accentuate the positive, not the negative.”
That advice might sound trite, she acknowledged, but “a lot of people will pick out something to complain about” instead of focusing on something worthy of praise.
“It’s not hard to find great stuff if you look,” White advised.
Known for her memorable supporting roles in some of television’s most celebrated sitcoms, the nonagenarian injected some of her trademark wit into the remainder of her answer.
She said her longevity has also included her longtime love of vodka and hot dogs, “probably in that order.”
Much of the wide-ranging interview focused on White’s eternal optimism, which she credits not only for helping her live a long life, but also her iconic Hollywood career.
“I know it sounds corny, but I try to see the funny side and the upside, not the downside,” she said. “I get bored with people who complain about this or that. It’s such a waste of time.”
Guided by that positive outlook, White was able to withstand a number of early rejections on the way to achieving the longest television career of any female entertainer.
“You just keep plugging away,” she said. “You don’t give up.”
Perseverance alone, however, is not enough to bring success in her industry, she advised those pursuing an acting career.
“Do your work, learn your lines and come in prepared,” White said.
She admonished those who believe they “can wing it” or otherwise do not put in sufficient effort.
“We’re in show business, which is fun,” she said. “But take your business seriously, because it is a serious business.”
Despite the perseverance and optimism that has brought her this far, there is one achievement she confessed has continued to elude her. She has still not been approached on her birthday by Robert Redford, her not-so-secret crush.
“I try every year,” she joked.
She said the two have never worked together, making him one of only a few entertainers with such lengthy Hollywood careers with whom White has not crossed paths.
In addition to a career punctuated by numerous acting awards and honors, White has been an outspoken advocate for animals. That passion, which she said dates back to her childhood, has also helped keep her young.
She still has no plans to give up either pursuit, with a recent role in the sitcom “Young & Hungry” and a desire to “keep working until they stop asking.”
When she does call it quits, White’s wish is that people remember her “warmly,” appropriately desiring that her memory brings others joy.
“I hope they remember something funny,” she said. “I hope they remember a laugh.”
“American Woman,” an eight-part digital CNN series about women who “shattered glass ceilings,” will include an episode about White, described by the network as “a pioneer in the entertainment industry, particularly for female comedians.”
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